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More than Just a Textbook

When I graduated in college, I thought that nursing is but a basic science, a profession written in textbooks, and a job dictated by policies and standards, but I was wrong.

After seeing my name as one of the Nursing Licensure Exam board passers last 2013, I was so excited knowing that it was the commencement of my whole nursing career.  My post-graduate enthusiasm pushed me to take up different pieces of training and to attend several seminars to revamp my resume. Two months later, I applied to a nearby hospital with all the confidence that I can deliver nursing care in the best possible way I can, but I disappointed myself.

In every duty, I have to struggle with ignorance. I thought I knew a lot about nursing, and now I finally realized that our lessons in college were only but a bird’s eye view of what truly nursing is. And even how much I study, there are so many medications, medical conditions, and nursing interventions that I still don’t know.

“Welcome to the real world of nursing”, some nurses often say. Some days feel fine; some days are just utterly intoxicating. Some days you can eat your lunch, some days you can’t. Some patients are kind, while others are not. And no matter how you try to control the shift, delays, and unwanted circumstances are inevitable.

If you come to think about it, there are a thousand reasons to dislike nursing. Besides the fact that the monetary compensation is not substantial, the workload, pressure, and stress are just too high. You have to deal not only with the patient but to their families and significant others. You need to collaborate with different kinds of doctors, not to mention supervisors, chief nurses, and the other heads of your hospital.

Nurses are expected to perform a bed bath, change diapers, turn the patient, feed the patient, give medications, carry-out orders, and other hundred things, but sometimes all your efforts are never enough. Worse, all the good things you’ve done will be erased if you commit a single mistake.

At times you can’t help but curse the nursing profession and wish that you never took this profession in the first place. You will even come to a point in your nursing life that you want to give up, take a more straightforward career path, and earn more. But I believe in the saying: “once a nurse, always a nurse”. No matter how you try to deny the fact that you love nursing, it always manifests.

Here’s another comforting truth I learned: you are never alone undergoing this kind of process. Every heartache and joys are all healthy parts of a nurse’s life. And sometimes, when you feel so weak, helpless, and ignorant, it only indicates that you are a healthy individual who is receptive to learning and improvement. Nurses are not made overnight. You have to experience all the ups and downs of life. Nursing is a continuous process of learning and surprises. Yes, you will commit mistakes along the way. There will experience significant setbacks in your nursing career, but your experiences in the hospital will not only mold you to become a better nurse, but also a nobler individual.

Even though nurses are sometimes mocked and disdained, you know in yourself that a simple thank you can melt all those hatreds away. You witness how life ends and how life begins. You hold someone’s hand when they breathe their last. You hear the most sincere prayers in death beds, and you witness real-life dramas happening inside the hospital walls.

What could be more exciting than helping your patient’s get-up as he first takes a step towards recovery? What could be more fulfilling than seeing your patients walk through the elevator doors, saying goodbye to you? Indeed there’s no book that can define what nursing truly is. For me, nursing just happens.


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